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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Part III: Comparative Description

NOTES: This section examines the sentencing parameters point values, as follows:

  • The Criminal Punishment Code allows for a non-state prison sanction for offenders scoring 44.0 or fewer total points.
  • The Code mandates state prison as the sanction, unless the sentence is mitigated, for all those offenders whose total points exceed 44.0.

This means that only those offenders scoring 44 or fewer points may receive a non-state prison sanction under the Code. All others must receive a state prison sanction, absent downward departure from this structure.

Florida Statute 921.0026 allows for circumstances or factors that reasonably justify the downward departure of Guidelines/Code scoresheet.

In addition, on January 24, 2002 the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in Jones v. State that Section 948.01(3) F.S. (supp. 1998), which allows for the sanction of drug offender probation in the case of a chronic substance abuser, provides an alternative sentencing scheme for drug offenders that is outside the Code. It was ruled that the Trial Court had the discretion to sentence the defendant to drug offender probation even though the Code mandated prison time.

Actual sanctions imposed, including state prison, community control, probation, county jail/time served, and other sanctions are presented and compared to the categories listed above.

FINDINGS:

  • Across the state, 20.5% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2014-2015. An additional 25.2% were sentenced to incarceration in county jail, or to time already served in jail. Five percent (5.3%) were sentenced to community control, and almost half to probation (48.5%), including drug offender probation and regular probation. Less than one percent (0.6%) of offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions. For sentencing dates in FY2013-2014, 20.8% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 23.1% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than six percent (5.5%) were sentenced to community control, and 50.0% to probation. Less than one percent (0.5%) of the offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions (Table 1).

  • Almost three-quarters of the 69,681 Code scoresheets with sentence dates in FY2014-2015 examined (51,084 scoresheets or 73.3%) scored 44 points or fewer (Table 1). These scoresheets represent sentencing events where the judge has the discretion to sentence the offender to either a non-state prison sanction or a state prison sanction. If the judge chose to sentence the offender to state prison, the judge had the discretion to sentence the offender up to the statutory maximum of the law. For scoresheets with sentence dates in FY2013-2014, there were 49,225 (72.7%) offenders scoring 44 points or fewer (Table 1).

  • For FY2014-2015, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 58.0% were sentenced to state prison, with another 12.3% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring fewer than 44 points, 6.8% were sentenced to state prison, and 29.9% to county jail/time served. For FY2013-2014, 58.3% of the offenders scoring above 44 points were sentenced to state prison and another 10.5% of these offenders were sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring fewer than 44 points, 6.8% were sentenced to state prison, and 27.9% to county jail/time served. (Table 1).

  • Scoresheets with a state prison sanction decreased slightly from 20.8% in FY2013-2014 to 20.5% in FY2014-2015. County jail sanctions increased from 23.1% in FY2013-2014 to 25.2% in FY2014-2015. Community Control sanction rates decreased slightly from 5.5% in FY2013-2014 to 5.3% in FY2014-2015 (Table 1).

  • Statewide, 76.3% of offenders (10,752 out of 14,086) receiving a prison sanction scored out to a prison sanction in FY 2014-2015. Table 2
  • presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2013-2014 and FY2014-2015 by circuit and sanction imposed. In FY2014-2015, Circuit 11 (Miami) had the highest percentage (95.2%) of prison sanctioned scoresheets with more than 44 points while Circuit 12 (Sarasota) had the lowest (58.0%).

  • Incarceration rates vary greatly by county and circuit. Jail sanctions also vary greatly depending on the number of beds available and judicial inclination to use the jail sanction. Table 3 represents the distribution of sanction imposed by circuit and county. Although variance in sentencing does exist at the circuit and county level based on the judge involved, variability in the statistics presented in this table could also be as a result of differences in the type of offenders being sentenced around the state. There are also very small numbers of scoresheets for some of the counties listed in this table. The incarceration rates for counties with fewer than 100 scoresheets could possibly be misleading (Table 3).

  • In both FY2013-2014 and FY2014-2015 the majority of violent offenders received a state prison sanction (Table 4).

  • As would be expected, scoresheets with the highest offense severity levels received a state prison sanction, and those with the lowest received probation (Table 5).

  • Consistently in FY2013-2014 and FY2014-2015, for offenders sentenced to state prison, the majority with offense severity levels of 1 through 5 received less than two years and those with offense level 10 received more than ten years (Table 6).

  • From FY2013-2014 to FY2014-2015 the percentage of scoresheets with no prior record or prior misdemeanors decreased slightly. Those with four to six or more felonies were the same or changed very slightly. (Table 7).

  • From FY2013-2014 to FY2014-2015 the percentage of scoresheets with no additional offenses decreased slightly and those with misdemeanors increased by a percentage point. The percentage with four or more felonies remained relatively constant (Table 8).

Within the Criminal Punishment Code policy, a true mitigation occurs when an offender scores more than 44 total points and either receives a non-state prison sanction (except drug offender probation) or a state prison sentence length below the 25% permissible discretion. Sanction mitigation occurs when an offender scores more than 44 total points, but receives a non-state prison sanction (except drug offender probation).

  • The true mitigation rate for offenders who scored more than 44 total points is 59.4% for FY2013-2014 and 60.4% for FY2014-2015. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 40.6% for FY2013-2014 and 41.0% for FY2014-2015 (Table 11).

  • For the offenders who received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 26.6 months during FY2013-2014 and 24.5 months during FY2014-2015 (Table 11).

Departure, as defined here, is not a comment on the legality of the sentence. There are many reasons for departure, which are recognized as legitimate under F. S. 921.0026. In addition, other Statutes, such as F.S. 948.034, establish special conditions allowing for departures from recommended sentences. Database limitations do not allow us to isolate all these reasons for departure.

Table 1 Recommended Sanction Category by Sanction Imposed

Sanction Imposed Recommended Sanction Category
FY 2013-2014 Sentence Dates1 FY 2014-2015 Sentence Dates2
22.0 Points or Less 22.1 to 44.0 Points More than 44.0 Points Total 22.0 Points or Less 22.1 to 44.0 Points More than 44.0 Points Total
State Prison 402 2,932 10,752 14,086 398 3,087 10,785 14,270
1.8% 10.8% 58.3% 20.8% 1.7% 10.9% 58.0% 20.5%
Community Control 622 1,731 1,388 3,741 607 1,793 1,301 3,701
2.8% 6.4% 7.5% 5.5% 2.7% 6.3% 7.0% 5.3%
Probation 15,272 14,296 4,290 33,858 15,291 14,338 4,152 33,781
69.0% 52.8% 23.3% 50.0% 67.0% 50.7% 22.3% 48.5%
County Jail 5,751 7,962 1,939 15,652 6,386 8,869 2,283 17,538
26.0% 29.4% 10.5% 23.1% 28.0% 31.4% 12.3% 25.2%
Other 98 159 75 332 135 180 76 391
0.4% 0.6% 0.4% 0.5% 0.6% 0.6% 0.4% 0.6%
Total 22,145 27,080 18,444 67,669 22,817 28,267 18,597 69,681
100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
1 Offense dates on or after October 1, 2012.
2 Offense dates on or after October 1, 2013.

Figure 1 Sanction Imposed for Offenders Scoring in the State Prison Sanction Category*

For FY 13-14 and FY 14-15, State Prison 58.3% and 58.0%, Community Control 7.5% and 7.0%, Probation 23.3% and 22.3%, County Jail 10.5% and 12.3%, Other 0.4% and 0.4%.
*Total points greater than 44.


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